First study of its kind: Synbiotics may control excess weight in obese kids

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image © iStockPhoto / Jezperklauzen
Image © iStockPhoto / Jezperklauzen

Related tags Obesity Gut flora

Daily supplements containing prebiotics and probiotics may improve oxidative stress and enhance weight loss in obese kids, says a new study.

Obese children on a calorie-controlled diet with increased exercise lost more weight and improvements in body mass index when they also received a synbiotic supplement, according to results published in Beneficial Microbes​.

Supplementing the diet and exercise program with synbiotics also led to significant decreases in measures of oxidative stress.

 “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study showing the effects of synbiotics on oxidative stress in obese patients with an additional effect on weight loss regarding to previous studies,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Prof. Ener Cagri Dinleyici from the Department of Pediatrics at Eskisehir Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine in Turkey.

The supplement

The researchers used the commercial NBL Probiotic Gold product from Nobel Ilac, Turkey containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum​, and Enterococcus faecium​ with fructooligosaccharides and lactulose prebiotics.

Prof. Dinleyici told NutraIngredients-USA that this formulation has been registered as a food supplement and positioned for general gut health in Turkey.

“There are no official recommendations about the optimum probiotic strains for obesity or weight loss. We only know that there are clear relationship between the obesity and gut dysbiosis,”​ he explained. “This probiotic mixture has not been evaluated before for this indication. We prefer these formulations because of includes Lactobacillus spp and Bifidobacterium spp. and also dual-coated . We also use this formulation as an ADD-ON therapy to diet and physical exercise.”

 Gut health and obesity

The study adds to emerging body of science supporting the effects of gut microflora on metabolic factors and obesity.

A breakthrough paper published in 2006 reported that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person, suggesting that obesity may have a microbial component (Nature​, Vol. 444, pp. 1022-1023, 1027-1031).

Numerous papers have followed looking at manipulating the gut microbiota by prebiotics or probiotics to shift it to a lean profile, to produce a change in many metabolic pathways and nutrient absorption, or to increase energy expenditure by promoting secretion of hormones like GLP-1.

The new study, a collaboration between scientists from the Eskisehir Osmangazi University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), is the first to look at using both prebiotics and probiotics (synbiotics) to influence obesity-related measures in children.

Image © iStockPhoto

Study details

Prof Dinleyici and his co-workers included 77 obese children in their open-label, randomised, controlled study. All the children were put of a reduced calorie diet and given a physical activity program to follow, and half of these children had their diets supplemented with the synbiotic supplement for one month.

A similar number of children in both groups lost weight (64% in the control group and 71% in the synbiotic group) but the percentage reductions were significantly greater in the children receiving the additional synbiotic supplement, compared with baseline levels.

Improvements were also observed in the lipid measures of the children receiving the additional synbiotic supplement. “In our study, serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly decreased after one month synbiotic supplementation,”​ wrote the researchers. “Also 50% of children with hyperlipidemia returned to normal with this supplementation.”

“In our study, after one month, changes in weight, BMI and [triceps skinfold thickness] were higher in the group receiving the synbiotic supplement above the standard method including reduced calorie intake and physical exercise,” ​they wrote.

“The supplement tested also had a beneficial effect on total oxidative stress.

“The beneficial effects of a synbiotic supplement on controlling excess weight, altering lipid metabolism and oxidative stress among children and adolescents can be considered in routine follow-up.”

Next steps

 Prof. Dinleyici told us that this study is the pilot study for their hypothesis, and that they are sure that one month as only an add-on therapy is not enough for potential alterations of gut microbiota.

“Regarding our study's promising results, we planned to perform a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial with same probiotic preparations during 3 and 6 months in adolescents with exogenous obesity. During this further study, we would also plan to perform time-series sequence analysis for intestinal microbiota in the study group.

“With this new study, we would have a chance to see positive or no effect of probiotics on intestinal microbiota in patients with obesity.”

Source: Beneficial Microbes
Volume 6, Number 6, Pages 775-781, doi: 10.3920/BM2015.0011
“Effects of synbiotic on anthropometry, lipid profile and oxidative stress in obese children”
Authors: N. Ipar, S.D. Aydogdu, G.K. Yildirim, M. Inal, I. Gies, Y. Vandenplas, E.C. Dinleyici 

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